2019 Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards Winner: "Lullaby" by Nancy Shea

Congratulations to Nancy Shea! Her poem, "Lullaby," is the winner of the 2019 Writer's Digest Poetry Awards.
Author:
Publish date:

Every year, I am excited to receive the new crop of poems for the annual Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards. Then, I’m challenged with the task of picking one poem to win the entire competition.

Poetry-300x220

It’s no easy task to rank one poem above another, especially when considering the diversity of poetry. There’s always a range of poetic forms, including free verse, covering a variety of subjects and expressing a myriad set of moods.

As usual, there were many strong contenders for the top spot after going through around 1,000 entries. Ultimately, it came down to which excellent poem spoke to me more than any of the other great entries.

This year, I selected “Lullaby” by Nancy Shea for the Grand Prize. Shea will receive $1,000, a free video download of Build an Audience for Your Poetry from the Writer’s Digest Shop, and a 20-minute consultation with yours truly.

See a complete list of the 2019 Poetry Awards winners.

“Lullaby” by Nancy Shea

The oak leaves High this August afternoon

Drop a net of light and shadow

from the treetops Onto the sidewalk below

Cool the cheek of the infant sleeping His mother swaying under the branches

And I remember you as you were

fingers, lashes, tiny tendrils curling before the kaleidoscope of smaller roundnesses

Irises blooming hallow pools of darkness

sharp wind in the branches the violent letting go

two leaves pleading from one bough falling

side by side cradle-like descending

two cupped hands snapped at the wrist

falling in summer

you whispering Mother, is that all there is?

I loved all the finalist poems, but “Lullaby” swept me away for several reasons. The opening lines drew me in with the visual of an oak tree in August dropping “a net of light and shadow from the treetops onto the sidewalk below” that shades a swaying mother and infant child sleeping.

Then, this scene sparks the narrator to remember her child and an intriguing mystery that involves “pools of darkness,” “violent letting go,” and “two cupped hands snapped at the wrist.” All of it riffing off the popular “Rock-a-Bye Baby” lullaby.

The WD Poetry Awards call for unpublished, original poems of 32 lines or fewer. The top 25 winners receive a download of Build an Audience for Your Poetry and recognition on WritersDigest.com.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Under the Influence

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Under the Influence

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, let a character fall under the influence of something or someone.

WD-PersonalEssay-2020-WinnerGraphic

Suspended: Writer's Digest Personal Essay Awards Winner

Congratulations to J.E. Stamper, grand prize winner of the Writer's Digest Personal Essay Awards. Here's his winning essay, "Suspended."

Planting Clues: Red Herrings That Fool but Don't Frustrate Your Readers

Planting Clues: Red Herrings That Fool but Don't Frustrate Your Readers

Want to know how to keep your readers engaged and entertained with your mystery novel? Let these six tips from thriller author Kris Calvin guide you!

April PAD Challenge

2021 April PAD Challenge: Day 15

Write a poem every day of April with the 2021 April Poem-A-Day Challenge. For today's prompt, write a blank story poem.

Kristin Beck: On Writing Quickly and Publishing Slowly

Kristin Beck: On Writing Quickly and Publishing Slowly

Debut novelist Kristin Beck shares what it was like to write her historical fiction novel Courage, My Love and why she was so thankful for a slow publishing process.

Whitney Hill Elemental

Whitney Hill: Self-Published E-Book Awards Winner

Whitney Hill, winner of the 8th Annual WD Self-Published E-Book Awards, talks fan fiction, creating her own stories, and why she chose to self-publish.

8 Tips to Build Your Supportive Writing Network

8 Tips to Build Your Supportive Writing Network

Writing can be a solitary activity ... but it doesn't have to be. Let author Gale Massey give you some tips for building a supportive writing network.

April PAD Challenge

2021 April PAD Challenge: Day 14

Write a poem every day of April with the 2021 April Poem-A-Day Challenge. For today's prompt, write a "from where you're sitting" poem.

Tension in Poetry: The Hidden Art of Line-Writing

Tension in Poetry: The Hidden Art of Line-Writing

Writer and editor Matthew Daddona explains how to easily create tension in your poems and how that adds weight to your message.